Said emerges not just as an intellectual giant, but also a deeply passionate man.
The requirement f leaving one's place f orign and move from the periphery towards the centre, combined with the compulsion to look back and travel; homewards n a bid to understand one's history, is the force that drives much f recent Indian writing n English. The name Kumar has selected for his book signifies the journey that both he and his fellow writers have made, the distances they have traversed and the literary signposts they have passed.
It happens often that compositions f exemplary character and intuition do not receive the desired attention from their creators. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote Sherlock Holmes mysteries on a lark but tired f his detective, had him killed n a story, only to refresh him agan after a public outrage. A similar overlooking f one's own talents occurs n this Kumar's entertaining book. While the title may be reminiscent f a travel brochure, the book is an exhaustive thorough survey f Indian authors writing n English, living n both India and abroad. But, sifting through the literary ore, we find charming nuggets f Kumar's own life, gleaming like gold. Kumar's personal musings cover perhaps a fourth f his book but have an impact far beyond their length. The slender volume f his personal odyssey has enough pathos to overcome his intermittently interesting but mostly descriptive treatise on the Indian contribution to English literature.
Similar to his an earlier excellent piece f writing, Passport Photos, this one is a multi-genre celebration f the fascinating literary journey that Kumar has undertaken as a reader and critic f Indian fiction. His own fiction and poetry, along with personal accounts, make this an imaginative exercise that explores many f the impulses that have helped create contemporary Indian fiction n English.
The world literature has slowly awakened to the realization that Salman Rushdie, V.S. Naipaul and Arundhati Roy are not restricted to the ethnic press anymore; they are internationally renowned writers with considerable influence n the world f ideas. It is therefore particularly apt that there be a reassessment f Indian-English contribution to English literature and Kumar does this admirably through the prism f his own understanding.
n Bombay-London-New York, Kumar highlights at the very beginning that his pages are to be read merely as "marginal entries n a book written by others." He quotes generously from novels and short stories, newspaper articles, reviews and interviews, and uses photographs to convey a sense f contemporary India and the Indian writer's experience.
Kumar's canvas is as enormous ahis "reading practice" which he claims to have recorded for the purpose f this book. The issues he deals with are, likewise, numerous. Kumar does not incarcerate his survey to immigrant writing. We are taken to Pankaj Mishra's Butter chicken n Ludhiana: Travels n Small Town India , where an Indian born American kid asks a perplexed hotel manager "May I have a boddle f Bisleri Wadder." He ruminates on the nuclear bomb with Arundhati Roy (The End f Imagination), relives London's Bloomsbury circle with Mulk Raj Anand ( Conversations n Bloomsbury), revels n the celebration f Hanif Kureishi's sexually charged writing (My Beautiful Launderette, Sammie and Rosie Get Laid) and discusses Akhil Sharma's An Obedient